Press freedom in Thailand, especially for broadcast media such as community radio stations and Web boards, has “palpably deteriorated” over the past six years, lamented Roby Alampay, outgoing executive director of the Southeast Asean Press Alliance (Seapa).
“The Internet over the past six years has played a crucial role in allowing people to debate and air their views,” Alampay said, adding that things had become “more personal” when users began facing censorship, state monitoring and the threat of prosecution over content in their e-mails or social networking sites.
“Print media fortunately remain very vibrant and free,” he added.
Alampay, who has completed his term at Bangkok-based Seapa and leaves Bangkok for Manila today, told The Nation that Thais have to be mindful about the growing legal constraints that curb freedom of press and expression.
Six years ago, Thaksin Shinawatra was “no friend of the media”, but was “put in check” by the courts, Alampay said. Now, after political and military upheaval, there is Abhisit Vejjajiva.
“You have a prime minister who benefited from political and military upheavals, and he says all the right things about press freedom, but in the background, there’s a lot of trouble,” he said.